ATLANTA, GA - JULY 28: Craig Kimbrel #46 of the Atlanta Braves enters the game to pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on July 28, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
The campaigning for postseason awards has already begun in earnest. The season is not yet over, but writers who vote on awards are lining up to make their picks. The best shot any Atlanta Braves player has at winning a regular season award is closer Craig Kimbrel. ESPN's Jayson Stark makes the case that Killa-Craig should be this year's National League Cy Young winner:
Strikeouts: 105 in 57 1/3 IP, the best strikeout ratio ever (16.5/9 IP)
Opponent AVG.: .128, the lowest against any pitcher since 1900
Opponent OPS: .368, the lowest against any pitcher in the expansion era
WHIP: 0.68, best by any National League reliever since 1900
Percentage of hitters struck out: 49.5 pct., best in live-ball era
Strikeout-to-hit ratio: 105 whiffs, 25 hits (4.2), best of all time
And then there's the other stuff. With runners on base, he's faced 71 hitters -- and allowed a hit to four of them. ... With runners in scoring position, he's faced 29 hitters -- and given up a hit to one of them. ... Of his past 125 outs, 81 of them have come on strikeouts. ... He's had eight outings in which he struck out all three hitters he's faced -- more than Chapman, Fernando Rodney, Jonathan Papelbon, Rafael Soriano, Jim Johnson and Jason Motte combined. ... And have we mentioned this man has whiffed 11 more hitters for the season than his rotation amigo, Tim Hudson -- but in 107 1/3 fewer innings?
Absolutely ridiculous, Kimbrel has been. His biggest competition will likely come from knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. R.A. has at least three more starts this season, and is within striking distance of the pitcher's triple crown. Should he finish strong and get the triple crown (wins, strikeouts, ERA) he will likely win the Cy Young. But if he scuffles the last few weeks, and Kimbrel continues his dominance, and continues to put up historic numbers, there will be many more calls for the Braves closer to win the Cy Young.
Personal awards are nice, but I'm more interested in the Braves going deep into the postseason, and Kimbrel closing out series win after series win. The Braves, and Kimbrel, just need to keep winning series, keep saving games, and the awards will take care of themselves. This will be a nice debate to have in the off-season as we basque in the afterglow of another World Series trophy in the hands of the Braves. Keep on...